How to Authentically Meet People Without the Dating Apps
Tips and tricks to meet new people and make new friends this February.
I think we can all agree… dating apps aren't a sure fire way to meet new people and make meaningful relationships. After all, they are a social experiment based on data, not the human experience.
However, for those that struggle with meeting new people, they can seem like a good place to start. But, if you're sick of Tinder, Bumble or any other friendship or dating app you might have, how do you meet new people and make a connection that will last?
Here's some tips and tricks on how to authentically meet people, whether you’re looking for something mutual or you’re after something more, we’ve got you covered.
Firstly, let's focus on confidence as this often holds us back from meeting new people. Before you even step out of the door, having a certain level of confidence in yourself and who you are can make a huge difference.
This is so that when you meet new people and approach new situations, which can challenge your values and beliefs, you are confident in yourself to hold your own and still engage in a conversation with a stranger.
One trick is to focus on yourself, don’t worry about what other people are thinking and focus on what you are thinking about yourself. The most destructive barrier to confidence is anxiety and self-damaging thoughts.
When you start thinking self-deprecating thoughts it is a good practice to challenge your thought process and ask “Why am I thinking this?” it's most likely that your thought is a false reality of yourself.
A good calming exercise is to always remember that anxiety is a build up of adrenaline in the body which is our natural fight, flight or freeze response to stimuli in life.
It's what kept us safe in the age of tribes when there were dangerous animals to hunt, fight or keep at bay and now the context has changed to a more civilised age, our adrenaline has nowhere to go.
As well as this, there is a very fine line between anxiety and excitement as being excited is also adrenaline rushing into your body and finding the balance between the two will help you to stay grounded when in a new situation.
Another exercise to practice confidence is to be happy with yourself instead of looking for someone else to make you happy.
All too often we find ourselves saying “I wish I could find someone who could make me happy!” and if this is the case then you are starting off on the wrong foot. It can quickly develop into toxic behaviour if you're always expecting others to be in control of your own happiness.
Instead, ask yourself “Why am I not happy on my own?” and if you're not happy on your own, what could you do to be more happy by yourself?
This way, when you do meet someone that you would like to pursue romantically or as a friendship, you are able to build upon your own foundation of happiness rather than expecting someone to bring happiness into your life.
If you can't be happy on your own, how can you expect to be happy with others?
A good method to practice your individual happiness is to take yourself on a date. It doesn't have to be as serious as it sounds, go to a cafe on your own, or go to a park and read a book on your own, while you're at it you could even buy yourself a new outfit, something that you wouldn't usually wear but something you’ve always wanted to try out!
When you do, you should always take your headphones out. If you’re the type of person that fills the gap between travelling somewhere by listening to music, this can be daunting. But by doing this, you are inviting conversation and allowing yourself to experience everything in the moment instead of your own head… you might even meet that magical person while doing so.
You can even go beyond this by changing up your routine entirely. You may have a structure to your working week which helps you to achieve your goals, but changing this routine can be incredibly satisfying and increase your confidence at the same time.
For example, if you travel the same way to and from work, try a different route or try working in a different place entirely!
Finally, the last piece of advice for building confidence is to become a yes man! (or woman or person!)
When someone asks you if you’d like to do something outside of your comfort zone, say yes. This allows you to challenge your own biases which is great for boosting confidence. If it turns out you aren't enjoying yourself, you can always go back home. But at least you tried something new and grew as a person from it.
Next, let's break down some activities you can do to meet new people and create opportunities to do so.
Let's start with the 50/30/20 lifestyle. This is an ideology that helps you to manage your time and maximise your chances of meeting new people. It includes spending 50% of your time doing things you love for you, spending 30% of your time doing new things to expand your human experience and spending 20% of your time going to singularly focused experiences where you are encouraged to meet new people.
One of these activities would include going to places that you feel your ideal friend or partner would go to. For example, if you want your ideal friend or partner to be someone who is outgoing and extroverted then you should visit music events, join a sports team or hang out in public spaces.
However, if you feel your ideal friend or partner is someone who is more introverted then you should visit gaming clubs, take a train to the countryside or hang out in cafes and intimate spaces.
This way you are going to places where you are more likely to hit it off with someone who has more in common with you, rather than meeting someone in a completely alien environment where you feel uncomfortable.
As well as this, you should use real life situations and leverage your surroundings in order to meet new people - linking back to travelling without headphones. Allow yourself to be more ‘in the moment’ and identify chances to talk to new people.
Another great activity to meet new people is to spend time with the opposite or different sex to you. This allows you to learn about new people and absorb the dynamic between different people which can help you to learn how to approach others and talk to strangers.
Again, this is all about challenging your biases and allowing yourself to grow as a person to be ready for when you do meet someone new.
For example, a great way to do this is to throw a ‘rando party’ where random people show up. You can also take this further by asking friends to invite their friends which you haven't met yet which strengthens your friendship circle and sets a certain level of trust between you and new people because you're a friend of a friend.
Side Note: When throwing parties like this, make sure a trusted friend or family member is aware so you stay safe and that you are over 18.
Lastly, let's talk about psychology and what happens in our brains when meeting new people as this can help break down and explain those awkward moments in order to overcome them.
When you meet someone new, first impressions count. However, if they are truly interested in knowing you there will always be a chance for them to get to know you better with time.
When you do meet someone new, there is a psychological theory of 7/11. This means that within 7 seconds of meeting someone, they have already made 11 assumptions about you.
Again, this is related to the fight, flight or freeze response and is a defence mechanism we’ve developed in our evolution to protect us from possible dangerous situations.
Even though they are built upon biases and stereotypes, they can be great indicators of whether or not we want to continue associating with someone.
The 11 assumptions include:
- Education level
- Economic level
- Credibility, competence and honesty
- Sophistication level
- Sexual orientation
- Success level
- Political orientation
- Religious orientation
- Ethnic background
- Social, professional or desirability
Now this can be a scary thought that someone believes that they have figured you out within 7 seconds, no matter how open-minded they are. However, this allows you to hack into those 11 assumptions with the way you speak, the way you dress, your body language, your confidence and the context in which you meet.
By taking these things into consideration you can begin to meet more people that have a higher chance of being compatible with you on a friendship or relationship level by considering how these elements might influence those 11 assumptions.
For example, in a work environment you wouldn't wear casual clothing and you wouldn't speak how you would speak to your friends (unless the expectation in your professional environment was so) and as such people may view you as more reputable at work than during your leisure time.
To hack this psychology, try wearing what you may wear to work to a social event and examine how others perceive you, especially people who you are meeting for the first time.
As well as this, your culture and heritage can play a big role in influencing these assumptions and if you're lucky you may be very proud and confident about your background. However, always remember that when you meet new people you get a chance to completely reinvent yourself.
Just make sure this is genuine and authentic and you aren't taking advantage of people's naivety for not knowing you yet.
Another trick that can play into this is striking a balance between being confident and trustworthy.
For example, if you come across as too confident, this can put people on edge as they don’t want to get on the wrong side of you or make themselves a target for your overconfident outbursts.
On the other hand if you are reserved and retract from the group, this can make you seem like you are categorised as lower on the social hierarchy.
Again this is about being comfortable in yourself and if you find yourself in a situation that demands you act overconfident or reserved, always remember that you can go back to being your true self in the eyes of your friends and family.
A neat psychological trick to mitigate this is to stare at a stranger for 3 seconds or more, this allows your brain, and their brain, to make a judgement on who you are and if it is safe to interact with you more.
Even though you may not feel it straight away, your brain is making a decision on whether or not to engage with another person further and this can help you to overcome awkward or difficult situations by simply assessing them by sight before you approach a conversation with them.
That's everything you should consider when meeting new people. Remember to focus on yourself and to challenge your own biases by being a yes person and going to new events. As well as this, always remember the psychology underpinning meeting new people and use this to your advantage when doing so - just don't take advantage of other people.